Commission Based Jobs: Is it Right for You?
Even in tough economic times, commission based jobs in sales typically are relatively easy to come by - because there is little risk for the employer and while the products might change, there is always a need for new companies to expand their markets or enter into new markets.
I thought about this after recently watching the new HBO documentary on long-term unemployment entitled “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”. I wish all hiring managers see this film, because it humanizes the difficulties of job searching, and shows the steep climb many need to make after being unemployed for long periods. It also reiterates that need for hiring managers to take a chance on candidates and especially consider those who are out of work for extended periods. One of the profiled jobseekers took a commission based job after months of unsuccessful searching and I think it can be an interesting tactic.
While the employer takes on little risk, these jobs can provide an interesting opportunity for jobseekers with some level of sales experience and people who in general find ease in communicating with new people and promoting a product or service. I do think there can be commissioner based opportunities that can work to do all the things we talk about often: freshen up a resume, increase your network, and experiment with a career switch.
Here are a few pieces of advice to consider if a commission based job is right for you:
- Really think about your personality and if sales is going to be a fun challenge or a stressful venture.
- Think about products or services that are appealing that you could imagine promoting in an authentic way. While many commission based jobs are in insurance, finance or health insurance, there are certainly opportunities for products that are more consumer oriented (think about the modern day versions of Mary Kay and Tupperware). Think outside of the obvious areas like real estate and in more niche firms in education, IT, health plans, or energy companies.
- Because success in commission based jobs is purely based on sales results, education or job experience requirements matter less. Also, the clear benefit is that the more you sell, the more you make.
- As a commission-based worker, you generally don’t face a lot of employer hassles about your work style, so long as you’re generating profits for the company.
The flip side is that you don’t get paid if you don’t produce. Benefits may or may not be included. Vacation time may be treated like a week without pay. If you aren’t successful, your boss may let you hang on till you give up and quit, so you won’t be eligible for unemployment. To succeed at commission-based work, you have to produce constantly – there is no coasting.
So while this is not a solution for everyone, I think it is worth considering and looking into to bridge unemployment and test out and keep skills fresh.
Angie Kamath, who oversees Workforce1 as the Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development at the NYC Department of Small Business Services, shares her perspective on Workforce1 and the New York City job market in her weekly Jobs in New York City column.
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